George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Richard Kidder Meade, 12 August 1799

To Richard Kidder Meade

Mount Vernon 12th Augt 1799

Dear Sir,

I should have acknowledged the receipt of your favor of the 22d Ultimo before this, had I not been for sometime in daily expectation of seeing Genl Wm Washington, to whom I wished to communicate the contents of it. The General was here a few days since, when I put your recommendation of Captn Edmund Taylor for Brigade Inspector into his hands, and as he is gone on to Philadelphia, I presume that he will, while there, have the proper arrangements made on the subject.1

Can you, my dear Sir, give me any assistance in selecting proper characters from this State, to Officer four Regiments of Infantry which is the proportion allotted to Virginia of the 24 Regts authorized to be eventually raised? The Secy of War sometime since, requested ⟨me⟩ to furnish him with names of suitable characters for this purpose.

From a variety of circumstances my personal acquaintance with the ⟨inhabitants of this State has⟩ become very limited. To others then, on whom I can rely, I must look for information. But ⟨illegible⟩ had only a small proportion of the ⟨names illegible⟩ handed to me, and these confined principally to particular spots, when it is the Secretarys ⟨duty⟩ to have them dissiminated through the State. ⟨Whether⟩ this is owing to its not being generally known ⟨that⟩ he is ⟨illegible⟩ determined to take preparatory ⟨illegible⟩ to facilitate the raising of this Corps, or to ⟨illegible⟩ recommending characters for particular ⟨illegible⟩ with their own consent, when it is uncer⟨tain illegible⟩ appointed or not, I cannot say ⟨illegible un⟩able to select proper ⟨illegible⟩ for the command of the Regiments from ⟨illegible⟩ of the State, and through them to obtain the selection of the Company Officers, of their respective Regiments.2

If any persons occur to you as being well qualified & willing to accept appointments in the eventual Army, you will much oblige me by handing their names, with such information respecting them as you may be able to obtain, & on which I shall place great reliance.3 Mrs Washington unites in respects, & best wishes to Mrs Meade & yourself with Dr Sir—Your Affecte & Obedt Servant

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.

Richard Kidder Meade (1746–1805) served as an aide to GW from March 1777 to the end of the Revolutionary War.

1Letter not found. For other references to Capt. Edmund Taylor, see GW to Alexander Hamilton, 14 Aug., n.2. See also Meade to GW, 20 Sept., printed here in note 3.

2For GW’s efforts to identify men to be officers in the Provisional Army, see James McHenry to GW, 2 May, n.1.

3Meade did not reply until 20 Sept., when he had more to say about Taylor and suggested to GW another name: “Your favor of the 12th Ultimo met with such delay that it only got to hand on monday last—this circumstance I hope, Sir will fully account for the date of this. Your mention of Capt. Taylor induces me to observe, that since I took the liberty of naming him to you, that he still stands high in the good opinion of Colo. Parker, & I very much wish on my own part & for my country’s sake, that every commission in the army was as well filled—doubtless there are many good appointments, but I am asham’d of the present race of youths who are passing their time, as on a former occasion, in total idleness, when their Country has certainly a claim to their services. To officer the 4 Regts you mention, I fear will be a difficult task, but you may be assur’d that no inquiry on my part shall be neglected to find out such characters. I have not the least doubt but, that if good Field Officers can be selected, that they will be the proper persons to fix on the inferior ones; for I must confess I have been astonished at the recommendations given by some Gentlemen, to persons unfit one way or another, to fill Commissions. I have in my mind only one character, that perhaps may be made known to you—he serv’d with reputation in the continental Line, & is now esteem’d in private life, but unfortunately he is, by marriage, connected with the Rutherford family, who have been uniformly opposed to Government—This Gentn, Mr Go. Hite, applied to me some time past, to aid him in getting a Majority in case the Troops you now speak of should be call’d for. It shall be my business to procure from him, in writing, his sentiments, from which I shall be enabled to determine, whether I need communicate with you on the subject or not” (DLC:GW).

George Hite was earlier considered for a commission and was rejected. See James McHenry to GW, 10 Jan. 1799, n.4. In his letter of 15 Oct. from his plantation in Frederick County, Meade wrote further about Hite and named several other men worthy of consideration: “The military characters who have been mentioned to me by letter & in person since I answer’d your favor on the subject, are Mr James Stephenson, Mr James Glenn & Mr Monroe, whose Christian name I do [not] recollect at present. The inclos’d letters should have been forwarded earlier to you but from a wish to hear from Colo. Jo. Swearingan & Mr Geo. Hite before I sent them off—The Colo. tells me in his answer to my inquiry that he is too infirm to take a military command—Mr Hite has been with me & will cheerfully accept one; I had written to him requesting answers to certain questions relative to his political opinions—these I have in writing; I will not however Sir trouble you with the perusal of it, or any of the many letters I have in my possession, but relying on the confidence you place in me, proceed in as few words as I can, (having seen all the Gentn) to give you my candid opinion of them, which might prove erroneous notwithstanding the most intimate acquaintance with them all—If Mr Hite is sincere, (& this I can by no means doubt) he stands in my judgment a Virtuous Citizen—he serv’d in the War with Britain with reputation, is of a Military turn, & is a well looking, well inform’d man—Mr James Stephenson, from whom you have a letter in favor of James Glenn, I have never seen more than three or four times, he is a person of good countenance, & is spoken of in the highest terms by Colo. [Thomas] Parker & many others in whom I concive reliance may be plac’d—Mr Stephenson has seen service—I have mention’d the names of Hite & Stephenson first from an opinion that they have had the best educations—I have no grounds to suppose they have any preference as Soldiers. Mr Glenn I never was in company with until the other day—he has a Soldierly honest go[o]d countenance—is spoken very highly of by all I met with, & is said to be a good training officer. Mr——Monroe I have often seen (as he lives in this County, the others are of Berkley) he appears a plain honest man, of a slender education, fond of a Military life, of which he experienc’d a good deal in the line of this State, during the revolution—Our Militia officers speak well of him as an adjutant. In my interview with all the Gentn I have named, I think they only spoke of Majority’s; but perhaps, I may venture, to suppose that unless your list furnishes great choice, that both Hite & Stephenson may do justice to the command of Regts. I will only add to the trouble I have given you, by observing, that I have written to one of the purest characters, of my acquaintance to know if I may mention his name to you—you may perhaps recollect, the person of Mr Carter Page who served in Baylors Regt—was the command in the Horse, I should have hopes of getting his consent, as it is, I fear he will decline. On hearing from him I will communicate with you if necessary” (DLC:GW).

James Stephenson (1764–1833) of Martinsburg in what is now West Virginia, served as a member of the Virginia house of delegates from 1800 to 1803 and in 1806 and 1807, and as a Federalist member of Congress in 1803–5, 1809–11, and 1822–25. For Stephenson’s recommendation of James Glenn, see GW to McHenry, 12 Aug., n.1. Daniel Morgan had earlier recommended William Monroe in his letter to GW of 12 June. In his response of 27 Oct., GW acknowledges the receipt of the “inclos’d letters” that Meade refers to in this letter of 15 Oct., but they have not been identified. GW’s letter to Meade reads: “Dear Sir, By the last Mail I had the pleasure to receive your letter of the 15th inst. with its enclosures. Whenever the appointments for the Provisional Army take place, the Characters you have recommended will be brought into view, and their respective merits duly considered and attended to. And, in the meantime, I will thank you for the names of such others as you can, with confidence, recommend, and who would be willing to serve.

“Mrs Washington unites with me in reciprocating the respects and good wishes of yourself and Mrs Meade. With very great esteem & regard I am, Dear Sir, Your affect. & obedt Servt” (Df, DLC:GW).

Meade followed up his letter of 15 Oct. with a final letter on 3 Nov.: “In my last I observ’d to you that I had written to Mr Carter Page on the subject of a command in the eventual Troops—The day before yesterday I got his very pleasing answer; avowing his attachment to his Country, & his willingness to serve it, at any time when calld on—he however laments that the service he may be call’d into, is not in the Cavalry, having been traind there, & not in the infantry, this however proceeds from his difidence. My observations on his character, were, I think ample in my former correspondence, I will therefore only add, that should we be compell’d to call an Army into the field, that I should feel the highest confidence in knowing that such men as he is, were in Commission. I have very lately rec’d a letter from Mr Abraham Shepherd, of Shepherds Town expressing a desire to command a Regt—he requests me to forward his name to you—My acquaintance with him is not intimate, but I can safely venture to present him as a warm Government man, popular, active & enterprising. By his letter to me, & one in his favor from Colo. Jo. Swearingan, I find that he serv’d in [Moses] Rawlings regt, during Captivity &ca for 5 years & that he left the army as the Senr Supernumerary Captn in the Virginia line” (DLC:GW). Carter Page (c.1758–1825) rose to the rank of captain in the 3d Continental Dragoons during the Revolutionary War and in 1781 served as an aide-de-camp to General Lafayette. He was the son of John Page of Rosewell and was a student at William and Mary at the time that he went into the army in 1776.

Abraham Shepherd, who Meade indicates in his letter of 3 Nov. desired to be given command of a regiment in the Provisional Army, had written to GW from Shepherdstown on 15 Oct.: “In a late conversation with Coll Mede I have learned that you had requested him to enquire who would be suitable persons, to be honaured with Commissions in the provisional army consious of my zeal for the good of my Country and emboldened by the expiriance which four years service had afforded during the revolution and being the Oldest Capt. in the Virginia line, when I retired as a supernumerary Officer by your permission. I beg leave to place myself on the list of those who wish to distinguish themselves only by being usefull as you are not a Stranger to my Genl Charector you can readily determine whether or not, I could hold a Col. Commission with Honour to myself, and advantage to my Country, and therefore I shall ondly express my sincere wish, that if a more suitable person should offer himself he may be preferred” (DLC:GW). GW responded on 21 Oct.: “Your letter of the 15th inst. offering your services as Colonel in the Provisional Army, has been duly received. Whenever the Appointment of the Officers of this Army shall take place, it will be pleasing to find, in the list of Candidates, the names of such as were valuable officers in our Revolutionary War. They will meet with due attention, and among them your letter will not be forgotten” (DLC:GW). Shepherd (1754–1822), son of Thomas Shepherd who founded Shepherdstown (now in West Virginia), was a captain of a rifle company when he was captured at Fort Washington in New York in 1776. After his exchange, he left the army because of illness. He was a prominent citizen of Hampshire County.

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